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Thread: Wash or Not?

  1. #1
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    I am wondering if it is really necessary to wash your fabric before cutting it. It seems so limp after washing, and the wrinkles seem to want to stay.
    Thanks for helping this newbie.

  2. #2
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    I don't but I always use 2 or 3 color catchers and always wash in cold water when I am finished. So far so good.

  3. #3
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    Washing removes factory chemicals and allows for the fabric to shrink before cutting it up. Do not use fabric softener on it.

  4. #4
    Moderator sharon b's Avatar
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    It really is a personal choice. Some do , some don't :? Also how do you want the quilt to look when it is totally finished, and what type of batting will you be using :shock: I know a lot more to think about LOL
    If you use polyester batting that doesn't shrink when washed , the cotton battings shrink some, so if the fabric is prewashed but the batting isn't the quilt will have a wrinkled look to it when you wash it all together. You can wash the batting and fabric to get less to no wrinkles. Or you can NOT wash the fabric and batting and they should shrink at about the same rate.
    Clear as mud :? :roll:

  5. #5
    Super Member JanetM's Avatar
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    Like Sharon B. says..it is a personal choice.
    I always prewash because I don't want to take a chance that one of the fabrics I use will shrink more than another especially if I am using fabrics from different manufacturers. Many members on this board that prewash use starch when they iron the fabric to give it more body and to stabilize it.

    If you use batiks or hand-dyes I encourage you to prewash or use a color catcher the first time you wash your quilt as often times they have excess dye.

    If you decide to prewash clip off the corners of your fabric (a small clip will do). This will minimize fraying.

  6. #6
    Super Member NauDeeGal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharon b
    It really is a personal choice. Some do , some don't :? Also how do you want the quilt to look when it is totally finished, and what type of batting will you be using :shock: I know a lot more to think about LOL
    If you use polyester batting that doesn't shrink when washed , the cotton battings shrink some, so if the fabric is prewashed but the batting isn't the quilt will have a wrinkled look to it when you wash it all together. You can wash the batting and fabric to get less to no wrinkles. Or you can NOT wash the fabric and batting and they should shrink at about the same rate.
    Clear as mud :? :roll:



    Thank you Faye for asking this question! And thank you sharonb for the clear not as mud answer! I have been wondering which way is better. Now it makes more sense to me that it truly depends on how you want each quilt to look once completed. More creativity possible when planning out a project.

    DeeDee

  7. #7
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    Can anyone explain why clipped off corners help with the fraying?

  8. #8
    Super Member eparys's Avatar
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    I think that this is the reason . . .

    The threads that run side to side (woof) are actually one continuous thread. By clipping off the corners, if the thread on the cut edge is snagged it will not pull out any further than the width of the fabric

  9. #9
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    Thanks, learn something everyday.

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fayedear
    I am wondering if it is really necessary to wash your fabric before cutting it. It seems so limp after washing, and the wrinkles seem to want to stay.
    Thanks for helping this newbie.
    It's a personal choice.

    I don't pre-wash. If I suspect a fabric might not be colorfast, I test a small piece in a glass of water to see if the water colors. If it doesn't color, I rub the wet fabric against a piece of white fabric to see if any color transfers. If it doesn't, the fabric is okay to use. I have never found excessive shrinking to be a problem with modern fabrics, especially when they are closely quilted.

    If I were to pre-wash, I would starch the fabric before ironing and cutting. Pre-washing removes all the sizing from the fabric. Starching restores body and stability so the fabric is less likely to stretch out of shape with handling.

    Harriet Hargrave once demonstrated that even flannel fabric does not need to be prewashed if you are machine quilting. She made a quilt completely out of unwashed flannels, machine quilted it (with lines maybe 2 inches apart), and then washed it. It came out beautifully! (However, I do personally always wash and dry flannels *twice* before starching and cutting, because I have seen flannel shrink incredibly. I have no way of knowing if my flannels are the same quality as HH's flannels, so I don't take chances with flannel! HH's point was that quilting through all of the layers stabilizes the fabric.)

    Also, just to be sure there will be no bleeds, I always wash a new quilt in Synthrapol. Synthrapol suspends any unset dye particles in the wash water so they don't have a chance to settle in other fabrics. If I see any color in the first wash water, I will continue to wash the quilt in Synthrapol until the water is clear.

  11. #11
    Super Member shequilts's Avatar
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    I always wash my fabrics when they come into the house. I drop them off on the washer until I can get them done.
    I have two reasons for this.
    1. The sizing put on them at the factory makes my eyes water. If I'm working on a quilt for a long time, it really gets to me.
    2. The best reason of all....I was in a local quilt shop and saw a customer pick her nose and wipe it on a bolt of fabric. Never, ever, leave home without hand-sanitizer and don't forget to use it!!

  12. #12
    Super Member dglvr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shequilts
    I always wash my fabrics when they come into the house. I drop them off on the washer until I can get them done.
    I have two reasons for this.
    1. The sizing put on them at the factory makes my eyes water. If I'm working on a quilt for a long time, it really gets to me.
    2. The best reason of all....I was in a local quilt shop and saw a customer pick her nose and wipe it on a bolt of fabric. Never, ever, leave home without hand-sanitizer and don't forget to use it!!
    I'm a no washer firster but after reading this I might be. YUK.
    I would have said something to her but thats just me.
    For me it depends on what I'm doing. I don't use alot of red but when I do I'll prewash it for bleeding.
    I like working with the fabric before washing it. I seem to cooperate better but thats just me. I know someone that does wash absolutely everything including batting. So it all a personal pref.
    :thumbup:

  13. #13
    Super Member cuppi duke's Avatar
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    I hardly ever wash my fabric and have never had any trouble. The only time I might iis if it is a dark fabric or batik. I think it was in Eleanore Burns book that she said she hardly ever washes, that she likes the feel of the fabric unwashed. I figure if it's good enough for her it's good enough for me.

  14. #14
    Super Member dglvr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuppi duke
    I hardly ever wash my fabric and have never had any trouble. The only time I might iis if it is a dark fabric or batik. I think it was in Eleanore Burns book that she said she hardly ever washes, that she likes the feel of the fabric unwashed. I figure if it's good enough for her it's good enough for me.
    Yeah if Eleanor Burns sais it thats what I do. I admire her.
    She knows best. :-D

  15. #15
    Super Member coastienest's Avatar
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    I too think it is a matter of preference. I do pre-wash my fabrics. I just feel better knowing they are clean. When I iron them afterward I use a product called "Mary Ellen's Best Press". I love it. It is called a clear starch alternative. No ugly white flecks when ironed. It gives the fabric just enough stiffness to allow for easy quilting.
    Thanks for the idea of clipping the corners. The fraying at times did bother me. Now I'll prevent it. YEAAAAAA

  16. #16
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    If I wash my fabric - I use a zig zag stitch on both cut ends - I have tried the clipped end and pinking sheers either worked as well as the zig zag. Iron and starch afterwards.

  17. #17
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    Junior Member GMA's Avatar
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    I wash everything for the same reasons as mentioned before- don't know where's it's been or who's been touching or whatever. I'ts the nursing backround in me and I have way too many allergies. To the wash machine it goes!

  18. #18
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    Where do you buy Synthrapol? Is it the same as "retayne"??

  19. #19
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    I prewash my fabrics to remove the chemicals. These chemicals can be harmful. Also, if fabrics are from different manufacturers I prewash for the shrinkage because not all fabrics will shrink the same. After washing I iron the fabrics and use liquid starch. This allows you to get the true straight of grain and makes the fabric much easier and more accurate for cutting.

  20. #20
    Super Member sewingladydi's Avatar
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    I agree with crashnquilt. I also dry in the dryer because I make lots of kids quilts and I know that will be laundered frequently. I also iron with starch, but not until I'm ready to cut.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Missi's Avatar
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    There are so many threads out there on this topic. I was sewing at my LQS this weekend and we were all debating the pre-wash subject. The LQS owner is an avid pre-washer and she has a washing machine and dryer in the shop which is so handy when you buy the back and binding at a class and want to work on it that day.

    I recently got a hand me down front loader washing machine and use the speed cycle to do my pre-washing and I have noticed less raveling with the front loader. When I come home with fabric it goes straight to the laundry pile.

  22. #22
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    This is somewhat off topic...but since Missi brought up raveling...

    To try and do our part we do our best to recycle, cut down emmissions etc. We walk more, drive less. I've also started hanging my laundry out to dry rather than use the dryer. Not only has it saved us from $25-45 per MONTH but it saves our clothes. I still do use the dryer to "shrink" any fabric that might, before cutting. But, when I use the dryer on clothing I get a good amount of lint. Probably a small handful from each load. I expect it's from the clothes rubbing each other and the inside of the dryer. So, not only does hanging clothes out to dry help save energy and $ it also extends the life of your clothing. Just thought I'd share. :>

  23. #23
    Senior Member Missi's Avatar
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    I want a clothes line soooo bad. I grew up with one and love the smell of line dried sheets. I have a back yard with lots of trees - so that means lots of shade and lots of bird droppings. Don't want those on my clothes.

  24. #24

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    I always prewash my fabric. I always wash it as soon as I bring it home. And I sew up the cut ends to help prevent raveling. Washing removes excess chemicals and dyes from the fabric.
    And I always put vinegar in the rinse cycle.
    Alex Anderson on "Simply Quilts" says she always
    prewashes her fabric.

  25. #25
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    I don't always wash but I do starch or use Best Press - which smells better - It helps with the straightening and cutting - check out Harriet's book Quilter's Academy Freshman Year -

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